A child's first trip to Disney World should be a magical experience full of wonderful memories and new adventures. An adult's nth trip to Disney World should still be a magical experience that brings out the happiness and peace of the inner child. I'm sorry to say neither was the case for my Fourth of July Disney experience. I was hoping to see Magic Kingdom through the eyes of a 6 year-old girl on her first trip to the most magical place on earth, but was instead appalled at the entire experience.
Waking up a dreaming Alexandra at 5 a.m. did not go as expected when she kicked my stomach and punched my arm in protest to being awakened. She grumbled and rolled over, trying desperately to go back to sleep as I tried to yank the bedsheets away from her vice-like grip. Desperate, I dressed her and brushed her hair while she was still asleep. I even put her shoes on and proceeded to get myself ready. When I accidentally dropped my toothbrush in the bathroom, I apparently made enough noise to wake up the sleepy Alexandra.
Once awake, she scarfed down her breakfast of choice: cookies and creme Pop Tarts and Sunny D. Was that a comment on her mother's parenting style? No, not at all, why would you think that?
As tough as it was to wake her up, it was even harder to get her into the car because she kept forgetting items. Alexandra cannot ride in the car without one specific pink blanket and three specific stuffed animals. She fell asleep almost immediately when the car started and did not fight me during the hour-long car ride to Magic Kingdom.
I wish her parents had slowed down the car so Alex could have seen the entrance gate to Magic Kingdom, but her sleepy eyes hadn't opened yet and she missed it. She did, however, catch the giant Donald Duck statue and wondered why he was there. I learned that morning that Alexandra had not only never been to Magic Kingdom but had not seen any Disney movies except for Cars and Tangled. The child had no clue what to expect or what the stories behind the park's attractions were or who half the characters trying to hug her were or why there was a giant castle and parades.
I thought that was enough and tried to give a rundown of what was happening so she could have more fun. I tried to slow down so she could look around at the buildings and parts of the park which were obviously grabbing her attention. The buildings in Adventureland are a cross between the bazaar in Aladdin and the pirate world of Jack Sparrow. I was entranced and Alex was so excited to take in all the details, but her mother and father kept walking faster and faster, pulling her along so she wouldn't get lost in the crowd. Why?
We had all day to explore the park and they were so paranoid about little Alexandra getting lost in the crowd - but she wouldn't have gotten lost if they hadn't been running from place to place without enjoying the experience of Magic Kingdom. Alexandra didn't even get to explore Fantasyland's replicated French architecture from Beauty and the Beast or the little cabin-like shops straight out of Snow White.
I'm glad I was there to take care of Alexandra because her parents refused to get on most rides and little Alexandra would have missed out on spinning teacups and racing cars and roller coasters and magic carpet riding and haunted mansions and jungle cruises and target practice with Buzz Lightyear. Standing in lines and eating mickey mouse waffles while Pooh and his friend hug you are part of the experience. An experience that Alexandra will probably never revisit as long as she lives with her family.
I only say this because after having a magical day with me and waiting in line for It's A Small World After All - it began to downpour and thunderstorm. The day was apparently ruined, at least according to Alexandra's easily upset mother who saw nothing but the negative in that day. But Alexandra and I were having a grand time in the rain and waiting inside a gift shop. I even bought her first pair of Minnie Mouse ears. She wore them for the rest of the week.
So with a "ruined" day, we went to wait in line for Space Mountain. Because of the thunderstorm, the Fast Pass machines were down and we had to wait in line for over three hours. Thankfully, Alexandra was asleep in my arms for most of it and her older brother was busy reading his book. Three hours of listening to Alexandra's parents complain and bumping into the couple making out in front of us. Three hours of aching feet and the dead weight of a six year-old child.
Snaking up to the front of the line, Alexandra woke up just in time to find out (yet again) she was tall enough for the ride and get inside her rocket. She is measured three or four times at every ride because she is exactly 44 inches tall but deceptively small. She was so happy to get going and throughout the entire ride I heard her excited screams and giggles of terrified delight. Whooshing and whipping around corners while the stars and constellations whizzed past us, Alexandra and I screamed in joy. Space Mountain is my favorite ride and I was ecstatic to share the magic of it with Alexandra. As the ride comes to a stop, she bounces in her seat and squeals "again! Again, Ana, again!!!"
Her mother put a stop to the "nonsense" by dragging Alexandra out of her seat and rushing to the exit of the park, mumbling and raving about never coming back to the park again because she had had such a horrible experience. Alexandra's mother sat through the incredibly spectacular Fourth of July fireworks begrudgingly, smoking cigarette after cigarette, nervous eyes darting around, impatient to get back in the car and leave the "horrible" place. I don't think we were in the same park at all.
For the next few days, Alexandra couldn't stop talking about Magic Kingdom to every person she met asked me to relive the memories, begged to look at the pictures on my camera, and pleaded to rent The Little Mermaid or Cinderella. Likewise, her mother couldn't stop complaining about Magic Kingdom to every person she met for the rest of the week. I do hope she changes her mind and doesn't ruin the rest of Alexandra's magical and innocent childhood or any more theme parks with her negative attitude and nicotine-induced paranoia.
Sometimes, I really wish I could take kids away from incompetent parents and fix their childhoods. If I could, I'd have a house filled with all the children from my neighborhood and many more that I meet in stores. Some people... should not be parents. And some people should not be allowed to ruin magic for children.